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This is a wonderful boat if you're into nature, camping, taking stuff with you, exploring, convenience, accessibility, you get the picture. You might compare it to the old Chevy El Camino a car like pick-up truck. They are just so darn handy that they are kept and cherished for years and years. Wood trim is a nice touch.
The canoe is a bit small for tripping but Ostrum's 2-piece solo pack system will fit fine under the decks and a Duluth "Rambler" fits perfectly behind the seat. It can be done, and the low, decked profile lets you slip under the wind on big lakes and rivers. I sometimes miss using my single paddles but with a good double we really fly. A keeper!
I installed a sliding Wenonah bucket seat and use a bent-shaft zav. done many big water miles in coastal everglades -- tripping with 100 pounds of gear and water with breaking waves, 25-knot winds and nasty tides, at least for this region. I've yet to upset it unintentionally - only happened during practice sessions, and when manatees get ticked and kick my Rob Roy. It's a bad ass boat; sleek, although a bit small, fast and classy.
There were a few things that I would change on my personal boat, but that is to be expected on a boat that costs a thousand dollars less than any other decked canoe. First to go would be the seat. It is uncomfortable and much too low for someone using a canoe paddle, and the boat's stability is good enough to accommodate the higher seat height. I padded it up to 4" high and felt that I could get a much stronger canoe paddle stroke there. The rear thwart was too far forward, which meant that the boat was always trimmed just a little bit nose heavy with this 220 lb. paddler. I didn't see the benefit of the wood trim on the cockpit, and it ended rather abruptly on the sides instead of going all the way around. I would think that it would be easier to use a composite coaming. A rudder would be a nice option or owner add-on. I would probably want a spray cover for peace of mind if I were going to be paddling the boat loaded in wind and waves.
Initial stability is good, but beginners might find it 'tippy', a characteristic common in Bell boats. Secondary stability however is excellent. The guy I bought it from said I'd probably fall out before tipping it over and I think he's right. Leaning the boat helps in turning. The open cockpit allows you to move your legs around somewhat and reduces fatigue, at least for me.
For big river or Boundary Water type trips I think the Rob Roy is hard to beat. Carefully packed with lightweight gear you could do a week long trip in it. An ideal load would be 300 lbs, but Bell claims you can carry 550, although I don't know where you'd put everything. I wouldn't recommend it for twisty or rocky rivers or in whitewater as it doesn't turn quickly and punches through waves rather than riding over them. I'd also recommend a spray skirt in choppy water. All in all I love the boat. As Bell advertises it lends a kayak's speed to a canoe's ability to carry a load.
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